The RORC Easter Challenge is the first inshore regatta of a busy season of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. A strong line up will be mixing it up on tight Solent courses over the Easter weekend. Seven races are scheduled, aimed at testing the skills and stamina of the hundreds of sailors that will be taking part. The intensity of racing, coupled with free world class coaching, makes the RORC Easter challenge an ideal opportunity to develop a team and over 50 crews are taking full advantage.

For the first time in nearly ten years, a British America’s Cup team, Team Origin, will be competing in the Solent. Skippered by sailing’s superstar and Olympic medallist, Ben Ainslie. Team Origin will be racing Charles Dunstone’s TP52, Rio and on board will be the full compliment of the crew, set to compete in the Audi Med Cup series later this year.

“It is great for all of the team do some racing at home,” explained Ben Ainslie. “All of us have grown up competing in regattas in the Solent. Team Origin is based around where the Cup all started, racing around the Isle of Wight, so it is a bit special. We have just launched a new TP52 for the Audi MedCup series and as a sailing team, we have not had much experience in the class. The RORC Easter Challenge gives us a chance to get a feel for the boat, sort out our crew maneuvers, get the team together and have a good time racing in the UK.”

Team Origin are not the only ones using the RORC Easter Challenge as a build up event for the season, many of the country’s bright prospects for the future will be competing for the British Keel Boat Acadamy. Helming TP52, John Merricks II is Tom Smedley. A 5th year medical student at UCL, Tom’s greatest sailing achievement to date is winning the European 29er championships. “Tom had a great season with the academy last year,” explained UKBA Racing Manager, Luke McCarthy. “However all of the sailors have had to be achievers to get into the squad. We also have two J 80s racing this Easter with two of our development squad members at the helm; Tom Phipps and Mark Lees. The RORC Easter Challenge is an excellent opportunity for us to bed in new crew for the season. We have a mixture of inshore and offshore racing planned including the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.”

Interest in the RORC Easter Challenge is always strong because the RORC relax the rules on ‘outside assistance’ to allow legendary coach Jim Saltonstall and his team of coaches, which include Barry Dunning and Eddie Warden Owen, to interact with the teams and give advice whilst they are racing. A video de-brief by Jim at the end of each day is always well attended and very instructive.

Over half the fleet at the RORC Easter Challenge are performance cruisers raced by keen amateurs but their goals and objectives are no different to the professionals, as Jim Saltonstall explains:
“Like any other athletes, the British America’s Cup team are required to complete the five Ps before taking part in any competition; Perfect planning produces perfect performance. Their training is no different to all the other competitors taking part; The British America’s Cup team needs to complete a training programme covering the important aspects of the most challenging sport in the world.”

Written by Louay Habib    www.rorc.org